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Westpac's next choice of chairman a test for post-Hayne world

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Westpac rules off its financial year at the end of this month, and some time after that, its accounts will be presented to the bank’s Lindsay Maxsted-chaired board of directors. That will be the 12th annual result presented to a board that includes Maxsted, who has been a director of Westpac since March 2008, and chair since late 2011.

He is the longest-serving big four bank chairman by some margin and is likely to move on from the job between now and when his current term as a director expires late next year. That sets up an interesting succession question, which is of wider significance in the post-royal commission world facing banks.

Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted. Credit:Trevor Collens

As trust in banks has eroded in recent years after a run of scandals, what does that mean for what's expected from big bank chairmen? And does the royal commission change the types of people we are likely to have sitting around these boardrooms?

For all the challenges facing banks, chairing a big four remains one of the most coveted roles in the business world, with a pay packet of about $800,000 to match. Yet alongside the power and prestige of such roles directors say it's also a job that has changed significantly, as politicians, regulators and the community have rightly upped the pressure on banks to lift their game.

Sceptics would counter that the royal commission's ultimate message to boards could be boiled down to three simple and........

© The Age